Innovation Generator

Goal: Innovate by finding new values for inventions 

Innovation drives business; without it, companies would remain stationary and get trampled by the competition. Whether altering our products or creating new ones, we thrive on advancements. Scott Sehlhorst, President of Tyner Blain LLC, has illustrated a way of forming fresh ideas that solve customers’ problems by using current or potential inventions in his article “Product Managers & Innovation.” The effective strategy Scott describes inspired this game’s visual organization, allowing teams to consider the needs of their stakeholders and identify new values of inventions to address customer problems. This combination of value and invention provides the fuel necessary for innovation.

The Game

Begin by giving your players post-its and markers. Draw three columns on a large white board or poster and label them as follows:
1. Customers’/Prospective Customers’ Problems
2. Invention/Value
3. Innovation

Next, ask players to think of problems that customers within your market may have. After they write all their ideas on sticky notes and post them in the first column, discuss what they mean for your company. Then, work as a group to choose about five inventions your company has or could create. Write these on post-its of a different color and put them in the second column. Ask your players to explore the values these inventions have — other than their current purposes — and to post their ideas around the invention notes in the second column. Think of how these values can resolve the problems noted in the first section. Doing so ensures that your team’s innovations focus on meeting your stakeholders’ needs. Finally, collaborate to develop new innovations by combining the inventions with their values from the second column. Focus on innovations that address the notes from column one.

Why It Works

Using creative thinking to uncover various ways to apply a product inspires teams to develop new applications for inventions and form solutions that address stakeholders’ needs. Also, by identifying customer problems first, all ideas will be geared toward helping those who hold the key to your success. Whether creating new inventions or reusing past ones, this game is perfect for teams to brainstorm ways to help customers and stay ahead of the competition.

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